Mechanical Soothsayer

The Mechanical Soothsayer is a famous class of stage automaton, first debuted by a Data Engines Limited research and develoment team at the Craterhold Innovation Expo Park in 9997 AR. In short, the device is a large cabinet computer capable of playing the game of Vyozha with up to four players at a time.

Mechanics & Inner Workings

DEL Brand Logo by BCGR_Wurth
A Mechanical Soothsayer contains a large and carefully-programmed Dieseltech Computer in the cabinet which also serves as the game table. This computer is fitted with several GasKIT script spools on a carousel, allowing it to switch scripts based on number of players, variant of play, or suggested player skill level. DEL continues to tune the vyozha algorithms both as a way to maintain player interest and as a way to push the boundaries of programming techniques. The most recent version of the Mechanical Soothsayer even features rewritable programming gaskets and an integrated gasketype for on-site adjustments.   Each of the four high chairs around the table have a pressure switch under the seat, allowing the machine to guess the current number of players. All vyozha variants played by the machine are timed, allowing the machine to proceed even if one such chair is triggered unintentionally (i.e. by a handbag rested on it by accident. The 'computer' player in modern versions is represented by an empty chair; dieseltech engineers stand in attendance with the machines and may sit in this chair to trigger 'debug' mode, allowing them to clear errors which might arise through unforseen circumstances (i.e. a game piece being misread or the chair switches not working for some reason). In the original version, however, this seat was taken up with an animatronic Servant of Ironies to fit the theme of the device and further enhance the illusion of sentience.  
by BCGR_Wurth
Once the game begins, vyozha tiles are dispensed for each player into racks at their ends of the table. These tiles are wide, feature a steel core, and are inset with a number of magnets arranged around the outer painted border. The table itself features a grid of hexagonal holes into which these tiles may be inserted. Magnettic pickups under each hole serve as the dieseltech computer's inputs, with the magnets in each tile opening tiny valves or actuating tiny levers beneath the surface to indicate the value and suit of the tile. To move it's own tiles, the automaton uses a croupier stick, crane-like assembly, or (in the first version) a mannequin's finger equipped with a small electromagnet to lift the tile and place it where desired.


Though rare and expensive, the Mechanical Soothsayer showcases an entertainment dimension to dieseltech that would otherwise often go unnoticed. As miniaturization and price efficiency increasingly pushes dieseltech devices into the realm of consumer viability, it is possible that, one day, the descendants of the Mechanical Soothsayer which play any number of board games might make their way into pubs, game parlours, or even living rooms.

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After the first version proved a raucus success, Data Engines Limited produced five more models for permanent public installation at Cinex Park. The machines are, however, an expensive curiosity, and are therefore exceedingly rare outside of the park; there are only ten known cabinets extant beyond the confines of The Cinex as of the year 10,000 AR.
10' x 10' x 4'

Cover image: by BCGR_Wurth


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